Let me say it again:
You need to understand what you are fighting before you can defeat it.
You must know what you want to be different before you can make a difference.
You have to name the thing you want to change before you can actually change it.
It sounds simple. But often it's not.
We spend so much time talking about Vision and imagining an ideal future that we sometimes (often) get lost there. In our heads. Thinking magically about what might materialize someday. Wishing, wanting, waiting - and ultimately wasting all the effort we put into achieving our goals.
Trust me: Vision is important! Critical, even, to achievement. But there is a reason we tackle that topic much later in The Activated Genius Method. Vision matters for inspiration, direction, and emotional connection. And it also is completely crafted out of thin air.
We cannot build the future on the wind.
We must fix the foundation of our efforts on rock solid reality. On our acceptance and understanding of the status quo (that we can no longer stand).
I think we sometimes avoid this step because we worry about that word, acceptance. We fear that if we acknowledge fully the way things are, we will lull ourselves into believing that things do not need to change. If we spend too much time working to understand the present, we will not have any time left to create a different future.
And this is a valid concern. If we spend our lives complaining about what doesn't work - what must change - we may never turn our attention to the actual work of changing.
But we cannot let that valid fear prevent us from investigating the here-and-now in the first place.
So I encourage you to take the time - just enough time - to figure out exactly where you want to focus your work. Your energy. Your Genius. Your Leadership. To make something important to you better than it has ever been before.
Think of it as the site survey before construction starts. We are not mapping the world for mapping's sake. We are selecting the building site for the skyscraper of our future.
And if we want that structure to stand tall. If we want it to be safe, sturdy, beautiful, and resilient to the wind, we need to understand and accept all the current features of that imperfect plot of land. We need to understand and fully describe the status quo (we can no longer stand).
What is that for you?
What is the thing that absolutely must change? What is the rant you rant when you get a little drunk, or a little riled up with your best friends? What is the major frustration you feel when you watch the news, or go to work, or walk back into your home for the weekend?
That's the other problem with focusing too quickly on our Vision.
That word alone can sometimes pull us away from the real change we need. We associate that word with flying cars and landing on the Moon. We hear it most often in the context of multi-billion dollar corporations and global leadership decisions. And maybe that will the scope and scale of your Vision, too. Maybe the thing you want to change is exactly that big.
Or maybe the thing that would make the most difference - the thing that you were put on this Earth to do - will meaningfully touch only your family, or your work unit, or your classroom.
Maybe it is something that no one will truly know about but you.
That doesn't make it less important. That doesn't make the change less-needed. And frankly, sometimes, the smaller the scale the hard it will be to execute - because everything that must be done will need to be done by you.
Don't worry about that yet.
I promise, we will get there.
Now is the time to take just enough time to name the thing you want to be different, so you can focus your future energy to truly make a difference.
This post is part of a yearlong series stepping through The Activated Genius Method to access and engage your unique Genius, incubate your Leadership, and develop necessary skills so that you can accomplish more than you ever thought possible. To follow-along from the beginning, start here.
Then join me every week as I dive a little deeper into the art and science of human performance and guide you through the practical application of this blog's theme in your Rise & Shine! Monday morning email.
The Art of Possibility by Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone Zander
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath